Would you like to swap artist trading cards (ATCs) with other enthusiasts?
Although many people do swap artist trading cards at face-to-face trading sessions, most exchanges are carried out by mail with other members of internet swap groups. We take a look at some of the best artist trading card groups that we have found…
Here are some of which we have personal experience:
As the name suggests, this is a group for those who wish to swap artist trading cards with others in the United Kingdom. It's an active group, with themed monthly swaps, and additional voluntary swaps that often explore new techniques.
Katy's Corner UK
Despite its name, this group welcomes members from all over the world. It's for rubber stamping enthusiasts who like to swap artist trading cards and other things that they've made, share ideas, hints and tips, and learn new techniques. The members are chatty and friendly, and their work is of a high standard. This is another active group, with regular monthly swaps and other activities.
This is another swap group with a fairly self-explanatory name for those who would like to discuss and trade miniature artist trading cards in the smaller 1½ x 2½ inch (38 x 64 mm) format.
You need to be a Yahoo! member to join any of these groups, but you will be prompted to sign up if you haven't already done so. For further details of each group, including swap commitments, please click on the appropriate link above.
We used to recommend UK Only ATC, Advanced Artist Trading Cards UK and Mixed Media ATC UK, but the Yahoo! groups for these seem to have disappeared, and we've been unable to find them elsewhere. However, we have found a group called Mixed Media ATC Swaps on Facebook. We don't know whether this group is related in any way, but we note that it was created for the purpose of swapping high quality mixed-media ATCs, and that you will have to submit examples of your work if you wish to join.
Now let's take a look at some of the ATC swap groups that our visitors have told us about:
A while ago Kathryn from Cyprus nominated ATCards.com as her favourite artist trading card group, but we understand from Elena in New Jersey, USA that this group has now been replaced by ATCs for All, which describes itself as focussing on 'friendly ATC trading and swapping in a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere'. She says that members from all over the world are welcome, and that there are themed swaps and individual trades.
Members work with a wide variety of media and techniques, including painting, drawing, collage, fabric and clay, to give just a few examples, and also make and trade other forms of altered and mixed-media art.
This ATC group has also been nominated by France from Quebec, Canada, who tells us that it's a 'fabulous site, easy to use' and that the participants are relaxed and friendly. She also says that you get a chance to see the work before you actually swap artist trading cards with other members.
Another visitor from the Netherlands has written to tell us that ATCs for All is her favourite group because it is what its name implies: it welcomes all artists, whether beginner or more advanced, working in all kinds of medium.
We've heard from Amber in Alaska, USA about Illustrated ATCs, which we understand is a sister site to ATCs for All, but for those a little further on in their artistic journey. She tells us that this is an exclusive artist trading card group for artists who enjoy and have experience in making and trading 'thoughtful and original' ATCs and other forms of mail art. She says that this group is for people who have been artists for some time, and want to swap artist trading cards or mail art that exhibits a further stage in artistic development and skill.
I had a look at the group's home page, and have to say that I was impressed by the range of cards on display. I also noted that, as well as artist trading cards, this group makes and swaps (amongst other things) chunky and skinny pages, journals, inchies, twinchies and postcards.
Patti has written from Oregon, USA to recommend Monthly ATC Swappers at Swap-bot. You need to be a Swap-bot member and logged in to access the group page, but you'll be prompted to sign up if you haven't already done so.
This describes itself as an international group for those who would like to swap artist trading cards on a more regular schedule. There are two different themed swaps each month, but there is no obligation to sign up for every one.
By coincidence, I've been following a couple of recent discussions on Flickr about Swap-bot trading groups. There seemed to be general approval for the rating system and the policy of suspending those members who didn't fulfil their swap obligations. However, there was strong disapproval of a swap host who was apparently allowing participants to replace the original artist's details on the back of ATCs with their own.
Margaret from the United Kingdom has written to tell us about her group Maggie's Monday Musings (MAMMA). She says that there is a weekly one-to-one swap of artist trading cards with enthusiasts from all over the world, fortnightly in the summer, and that she tries to make each swap a challenge to the artist. She tells us that this is a small but very friendly group, and that it can be 'a bit mad at times'.
We've heard from Chriss in Cleveland, UK about her artist trading card group Swap 'Til You Drop. She tells us that group members from around the world swap themed cards on a monthly basis. Each participant creates five ATCs on the chosen theme, keeps one for herself, and sends in the remaining four for the swap. There is a guest designer every month, including one or two well-known names, and sometimes there are sponsors with 'great blog candy' to be won.
We spent some time looking around Chriss's blog, and I again have to say that we were impressed by many of the artist trading cards that we found displayed there.
Mary wrote from Missouri, USA to recommend Art Forty-Two. She told us that members submitted ideas for projects, and that anyone who wanted to could join in. She said that it was a very diverse and multi-talented group, that 'everyone is very nice', and that she had swapped some 'really great' ATCs over the past year.
We visited the group's home page, and discovered that its purpose was not just to swap artist trading cards, but to create and share mail art of all types. As it said on the home page, 'Art Forty-Two is a site dedicated to helping artists create, collaborate, and connect'.
We've discovered recently that this group has moved its website since our initial visit, and we're not sure whether it's still active.
One of our visitors from the United Kingdom has recommended Vintage ATC UK. We're told that this is an ATC swap group for all lovers of vintage, Victoriana and nostalgia, and that everyone who likes the vintage look is welcome. As their home page puts it, if you love 'that shabby chic, grungy or aged look', then this is the group for you!
Although members mainly swap artist trading cards, there are also other swaps with a vintage theme: for example altered books, altered postcards, cabinet cards, journals and inchies.
This is another group which, despite its name, is open to members from both the UK and overseas. Again, you need to be a Yahoo! member to join this group, but you will be prompted to sign up if you haven't already done so.
Lucie from the Czech Republic has written to let us know us about her artist trading card group ACEOfursXchange. She tells us that it's a club for talented artists from all around the world who are interested in swapping original ACEOs and ATCs featuring all kinds of animals and fantasy creatures.
Membership is by invitation only, but prospective members may submit examples of their work for consideration.
We spent some time looking around the group's site, and yet again were impressed by the quality of the work that we found there. It's not the sort of art that we normally feature on our site, but we would certainly recommend this group particularly to artists with an interest in fantasy.
Jade writes from Sunderland, UK to tell us about the Art Swap Club on Facebook. She says that everybody is friendly, and that they do "all sorts of trades from ATCs to happy mail". She adds that they have events frequently, and that you can look through people's albums to trade personally.
The group's Facebook page says that it focuses on all art forms that can be swapped with other artists, including ATCs, bookmarks, inchies, twinchies, postcards, index cards and rolodex cards.
We've heard from Victoria in Austria, who has written to tell us about KAKAO-Karten, which describes itself as "the largest German-language website about self-made trading cards". Victoria tells us that although most of the members are from Germany everybody is welcome. She does say, though, that knowing German is advisable.
Victoria tells us that not only is there a great trading system, with ratings and an online collector's album, but the community also hosts many creative events related to ATCs.
Favourite artist trading card group not listed?
Do you have a favourite ATC swap group that we haven't listed, but which you would like to recommend to other enthusiasts?
If you swap artist trading cards, and would like us to consider your favourite swap group for inclusion in our list, please tell us about it by clicking on the link below.
…but which is the best artist trading card group?
We've told you what we and some of our other visitors think, but what about you? Which of the ATC swap groups that we've listed here gets your vote? Is there another group that you believe is better than all of these?
Which do you think is the best artist trading card group? Have your say…